Chloé and Sharon

Akili Dada

Chloé and Sharon

Editor’s Note

The following interview of Sharon Adongo is conducted by Chloé Suberville.


Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York

Sharon, what are you studying and what you are passionate about?

Chloé, I am studying Science, Technology and Society at Vassar College.

This major is right in line with what I am passionate about: using science and technology for social good and building apps that make it easier for people to access services that they otherwise would not have and making the ground level in terms of economics and accessibility.


Can you tell me about the talk that you gave with Akili Dada?

I was giving background info on myself and how Akili Dada made it possible for me to go through high school because they gave me a scholarship but on top of that they gave me mentoring. We have leadership academies over the course of 4 years that helped me negotiate things that personally were difficult for me and I built my self esteem and was able to get negotiation skills. Education is an all-ground thing: school is not enough especially when we think about it in terms of leadership for women in Africa. Education is necessary but especially for seeing women in leader positions and interacting with them and growing with them.

How did you get in contact with Akili Dada?

Through my high school – the founder, Wanjiru (who is featured in the above video) contacted the principal of my high school and told her they were looking for students to give scholarships to and I was one of them.

Did you always know that you wanted to study abroad?

No. In the Kenyan system in your last year of high school you need to pick three courses that you want to do and you get called for your course accordingly. After I finished high school I was called for medicine at the University of Nairobi.

I already knew that was not for me but at the time there were not a lot of possibilities and so studying abroad was a way of trying to find out what I wanted to do for myself.


Akili Dada scholarship students from Kenya

How do you think leadership and having access to technology go hand-in-hand with building a global educational community?

Technology is part of the reason why we are becoming such a globalized community so having access to technology and information especially means that we are able to reach more people and more people are made aware of different things and situations besides school education; life education is being built by technology.

How do you think that works to empower women in Africa and around the world?

Aside from just knowing more about the world and about opportunities, technology is also an economic opportunity and its also part of giving you the knowledge of how other people lead.

It’s about giving you the choice to pick from different places and things and to choose how you need to lead because if you are closed up in your own world you just know one way of leadership and one way of being empowered. However, the technology just broadens your minds to different options and you pick what you need and what works for you and your community.


How do you introduce technology to communities and let them know that this is a skill that will help them, and further their knowledge of the rest of the world?

In terms of world technology it is a lot more complicated than mobile phones.

Having a mobile phone is the first step to access because easier communication makes it easier to access technology but then when we are thinking about web technology we also need to think about internet penetration which is not equal in every part of the world. Internet penetration is something we don’t have too much of because it is solely in government towns unless an NGO put it there.

The first step is mobile technology; after that, the internet has penetrated it follows that pace of interest to generate it.


How do you think access to technology and people being empowered will help build this educational community that the Brick Project is trying to create?

Access to technology is bringing different people into the story and having different people with different experiences.

It is a diversity which is all part of making a global education possible. Technology is a huge part of that and, getting for example a child soldier in Uganda talk to a child in the UK or the US for example, would not be possible without technology. It is a necessary tool for that to happen.